Bengals rookie wide receiver A.J. Green, who is 41 yards away from matching the combined total receiving yardage by Bengals rookie receivers Chad Ochocinco and T.J. Houshmandzadeh 10 years ago, knows he's facing another learning experience Sunday in Tennessee (4:05 p.m.-Cincinnati's Local 12) in the form of Pro Bowl cornerback Cortland Finnegan. He's coming off a four-catch game for 63 yards and his fifth touchdown on a 43-yard bomb against Seattle's big and physical secondary.
While Finnegan may be just 5-10, 188 pounds, he really brings the wood.
"He's not as long as those (Seattle) corners, but Finnegan is one of the better Pro Bowl guys," Green said Wednesday. "The guy's going to be a challenge."
But while Green's numbers (his 516 yards lead all NFL rookie receivers and his projected 11 TDs would pass The Ocho's career high) speak to his maturity, his response to Seattle rookie cornerback Richard Sherman's radio rant was downright statesman-like.
After saying Green was one of the most overrated wide receivers "out there," Sherman said, "He wasn't anything special. (Andy) Dalton was a good quarterback. He makes good decisions, but A.J. Green is just a lot of noise talking and bad routes."
Green doesn't deny he talks on the field but he's not going to take it off.
"Man, I don't even pay attention to that stuff," Green said. "He's going to talk. He had a good game. He's a good player. Yeah, between the lines I'm a talker. I'll definitely talk to you, but once it's over I leave it there, I'll leave it on the field, I'm not going to hold any grudges. I talk every game, but once that whistle blows and the fourth quarter is over, I'm back to normal.
"I feel like he made some great plays on the ball. I didn't use my proper releases and he had a good game."
The 6-3, 195-pound Sherman leaped in front of Green to grab one deep ball for his first NFL pick and he helped cause the other one on what looked to be an underthrown deep ball. Green said he felt a little like he let down Dalton on those deep balls "because Andy has the confidence to throw it up to me."
"I did some things I don't usually do with some slack routes," he said. "I felt like coming of the bye week I didn't have the proper releases. ... I'm making some adjustments, just not consistently like I'd like to."
The thing the Bengals like about Green is his toughness. On Sunday he mixed it up with the big DBs in the run game and did what he was supposed to do one-on-one with a safety when he double-moved him for the TD. How much of an impact has he made? If Green finishes with the 15.6 yards per his 33 catches he has right now, it will be the best average for a Bengal with at least 30 catches since wide receivers Chris Henry's 16.8 and The Ocho's 15.7 in 2006.
Now another physical challenge with the salty Finnegan.
"We've got a lot of respect for him," receivers coach James Urban said of Finnegan. "He's tough and he plays everywhere. Inside, outside, you never know where he's going to be. It's a tremendous challenge."